Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was quoted on Monday as claiming that Israel and Hamas have been conducting direct negotiations to expand the Gaza Strip so that it would include some 1,000 square kilometers of Sinai. In response to Abbas s allegations, Hamas leaders denied that they have been conducting negotiations with Israel. They also denied the claim that Hamas wants to annex parts of Sinai to the Gaza Strip.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal was quoted on Thursday as saying that it was the responsibility of all to “liberate the Aksa Mosque and Palestine.” Mashaal, who is currently on a visit to South Africa, said in a speech at a mosque in Pretoria, that Hamas was “opposed to ideological extremism.” Hamas, he claimed, has chosen the path of “moderation” and is not hostile towards anyone because of his belief. “Hamas believes in a struggle against the oppressors,” he said.
Hamas s leader in Gaza has declared the current unrest in Jerusalem and the West Bank an intifada, as six Palestinians were shot dead protesting at the border fence, further raising the stakes after a week of escalating violence. The comments by Ismail Haniyeh contradicted recent remarks by Fatah s leadership, including the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. There has been increasingly widespread use of the hashtag #intifada on Palestinian social media.